Up until 2020, for the past 11 years I have traveled with two former co-workers to remote places in November during the week of the Veteran’s Day holiday. We worked together for years and when our kids went off to college, we decided to give a “girl getaway” a try. Since our Pacific Northwest rains usually really start that month, we have found it to be an easy way to find some relaxation in the sun. A vacation with girlfriends is different than with a husband or family. We eat when we want, sleep when we want, read when we want and do what we want – there is no guilt and no one to take care of. I highly recommend making this a tradition if you can, before you retire! Our sacred week always occurs before the snow flies in the Puget Sound area and the frenzy of the holidays begins.
When we first started, we weren’t super brave, so we went to Cabo San Lucas. A quick four hour flight from Seattle, which is in the same time zone, got us friendly welcoming people, warm sunny beaches, margaritas, fresh fish and shrimp, chips and salsa, all in a swimsuit with our feet in the sand. We went back to Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo several more times before we ventured to Costa Rica, Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker in Belize, Cancun and Isla Mujeres, Loretto and Laz Paz, all in Mexico.
There are those that say traveling in Mexico is not safe. When I hear this, I don’t imagine they have ever traveled there. We haven’t had any problems, but I think that is because we are thoughtful and cautious when we travel. We are all grandmothers now, so we are not foolish. A few simple rules have guided us all these years and we look forward to our girl getaways as a highlight to our year. In fact, we choose a new destination and start planning our next year’s trip on the plane ride home. We all take turns booking our accommodations, excursions, and airfare. Meeting for lunch and wine tasting in the subsequent months, dreaming and talking about our next trip makes the year fly by.
Here are a few of the things we do to have fun and stay safe:
We choose a location that is warm, exotic and welcoming.
We talk to friends about places they have travelled to in the past and value their recommendations.
We find safe walkable downtowns to stay in.
Sometimes we go to a luxury resort and other times we rent a condo, hotel or a cabana on the beach.
We stay in a large place with security guards one year and then look for little “off the beaten track places” and check them out for future trips.
We form personal relationships with the locals and ask them for recommendations for their favorite places to eat and activities. (Amazing food and fun things we would have never thought of….cheaper too!)
We rarely rent or drive a car ourselves.
We take a pre-scheduled shuttle from the airport, walk everywhere during our stay, and take a shuttle back to the airport when we depart.
We go to a local grocery on our way from the airport and ask the shuttle driver to wait for us.
We get items for breakfast each morning, snacks, adult beverages and a few dinners we can cook ourselves. (We make our shopping lists on the plane ride.)
We make our main meal a huge lunch on the beach or somewhere interesting.
We are always back to our room at dark and “in for the night”, unless we choose to go out to dinner.
We make reservations for a few nights during the week for a nice dinner and always have the restaurant host/owner get us a taxi.
We never walk home alone in the dark.
We monitor the state department travel advisories to be sure we understand the political situation in the country and whether it has changed. But we have found you can’t always trust this – we have gone when there were travel warnings and as welcomed tourists have never been afraid or even nervous. In fact, we usually feel much safer in Mexico than we ever would in a large US city.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our 2020 girl getaway to an island in the Caribbean will have to wait until 2021. By then, I’ll be retired though, and maybe I can stay much longer than a week. I have a year from now to hope and dream that things like international travel can resume and to plan our next adventure and our “girl-getaway”.
Barbara is the new star of the Rock Your Retirement show! For one year, she'll let Kathe Kline tag along as she goes through her retirement journey.